ST. GEORGE – In the heart of town there’s a trail which provides spectacular birds-eye views of St. George, and holds great historical importance. The 2.5-mile-long Temple Quarry Trail is a family-friendly hike for anyone looking to connect with the heritage of St. George.
From 1871 till 1874 the Temple Quarry Trail was used by Mormon Pioneers to access the quarry on the southwest side of what’s known locally as the “black hill.” The quarry holds a vast deposit of lava rocks needed by the Mormon pioneers to construct the foundation and basement of the St. George Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints. The lava rocks are naturally resistant to the alkali that is found in the soil in St. George.
According to the Washington County Historical Society, the stone was quarried into slabs averaging 10-feet long, 42-inches wide, 13-inches thick, and weighing 5,500 pounds. Stones were then loaded for hauling. Hauling involved placing the stone on 6 inches of soil, straddling it with the wagon, securing it to the undercarriage of the wagon, and then removing the dirt from under the rock. The rock was then driven over the Temple Quarry Trail to the site of the St George Temple, 2.1 miles from the modern day trailhead.
There are still several rocks that show signs of quarrying and cutting from the temple excavations.
While there are a few ways to access this trail, the official trailhead begins at 283 S. Donlee Drive adjacent to a city park near the old Airport, now the Ridge Top Complex. From St. George Boulevard, take Airport Road to the top of the black hill, toward the Ridge Top Complex. At the top of the hill, turn right onto 265 South and almost immediately turn left onto Donlee Drive. Just past the apartment complex on your right, at the end of the road, the trailhead is marked with a man-made arch and a parking area.
The beginning of the hike is slightly inclined, however stairs have been added to assist in the ascent. After the initial incline, the well-marked trail is relatively level with benches and historical markers along the way. The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long, and wraps around the black hill providing amazing views of Green Valley, Red Mountain, and Snow Canyon State Park. Near the turn around point, you will find a loop where the wagons used to U-turn to haul the blocks back to town.
Both dogs and mountain bikes are allowed on the trail. This trail is fun for all ages, and the historical aspect allows for some fun teaching and observation moments.
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